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Photos by John Martin Page last updated: 2019-09-20

Updated photos September 2019

It is nine years since I first visited the Dunkeld tower, on DSO Day! So it's been interesting to see the changes since then and take better pictures with a Nikon P1000. Dunkeld provides the 3-MUX Freeview Lite service to the twin towns of Dunkeld and Birnam with 16 Watts per MUX from a directional transmit aerial pointing North-West from Newtyle Hill, up the River Tay to Birnam on the left of Thomas Telford's Bridge, and Dunkeld on the right. Reasonable reception is also possible in the village of Inver and, not so easily, west along Strathbraan.

Looking from the TX site North-West up the River Tay. Birnam is on the left of Thomas Telford's bridge, and Dunkeld is on the right.

A big difference since 2010 is the deforestation of Newtyle Hill. Some greenery is now returning. This is the view from Birnam … made famous by a reference in Shakespeare's Macbeth "When Birnam Wood marches to Dunsinane…"

Arriving up the track to the base of the tower and its village of equipment huts.

The reassuring Arqiva nameplate

Anyway, to business! Right at the top of the tower are two Tx panels, vertically stacked, and each containing two vertically stacked bow-tie slots, set against a reflector plate, giving a directional radiation pattern pointing NW to Dunkeld and Birnam. There is a link at the foot of this page to a BBC Research Department report about the design of these curved panel UHF aerials.

Closer still.

Backing off a bit, there is plenty of evidence of removed aerials. Comparing this shot with a similar one from nine years ago, it seems many of the white vertical co-linears have gone. Were they AirWave/TETRA or their predecessors? Inevitably, we also see the start of the opportunistic infestation of GSM panels and SHF link dishes. I was going to save the log-periodics till later but it was only after viewing these images back home that I noticed a HORIZONTAL polarised log, juts below the GSM panel on the left.

If anyone needs any spare U-bolts, you know where to come.

The obligatory shot of the Radio Scotland Band II folded dipole! I've never yet met anyone who listens to Radio Scotland, despite it being almost the only FM station that can be received on a car radio. Surprisingly, there is excellent DAB coverage in the area! I have no idea where the DAB signal comes from and would welcome enlightenment on the issue.

[Ed] There is no documentation on either the Ofcom or BBC websites that indicate that Radio Scotland is transmitted from Dunkeld, although mb21 is aware that there were plans a few years ago.

Two horizontally-stacked, vertically polarised log-periodics pointing to Perth as the source of the Freeview signal.

Here are the pair of logs again, seen from underneath

Sorry, but I like the ruggedised, BBC-designed logs! If I could afford £900 I'd buy one. I wonder if, when the TV broadcast spectrum ends at 700MHz, these aerials will be cheaper since they will be smaller

The more you look, the more logs you see. In the centre is the back-end of a solitary vertically polarised log pointing … well I'm not sure to be honest. Sadly I only spotted this after coming off the mountain.

The mysterious [to me] horizontally polarised log. If it's an off-air back-up receive aerial from a main station, could it be Angus? Apologies that I cannot say in which direction it is pointing. I'll go back and check next year.

[Ed] More likely this aerial is pointed towards Craigkelly, as this was the RBL source for the two BBC channels prior to DSO.

Just a general, overall shot to finish with

Some of the PVC sheathing is starting to deteriorate. Maybe these are no longer used anyway.

Dunkeld index

Angus | Craigkelly | Perth

Vertically polarised printed panel aerial (BBC RD 1970)

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